Tag Archives: urban

Learning Season

Officially I guess you can call this the off season for many teachers, the time when schools close for the year, graduations happen, grades are posted, and vacations scheduled.  But there is no off season for learning.

In my few days between closing my elementary classroom and beginning a fast-paced four weeks facilitating our SDAWP Summer Invitational Institute, I have taken some time for myself (most notably, a morning lounging in bed well past my usual 5:30am wake up time)…and for some off season learning.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time driving the freeways between San Diego and Los Angeles over the last week, experiencing the traffic flow (or lack of flow), talking with people who live in the LA area, and spending time exploring this rich and varied place.  In some places driving great distances is the norm.  I have cousins in Washington state who think nothing of jumping in the car and driving for hours across the state to have lunch with a friend or relative and then head back home.  And then there are people in my own community who resist a drive south of the racetrack because they don’t want to deal with the traffic that is common on the nearby freeway interchange.

As I planned a trip to the LA area to visit my son this week, we brainstormed interesting things to do and places to take photos…and there are many.  I carefully planned my own commute to try to avoid morning rush hour (or is that hours?), and found myself thinking about the factors that essentially wall people in their communities…and traffic and transportation are definitely some of them.  With the luxury of a car, I can go places without scoping out bus stops or worrying if someone peed on the seat of the train (had a conversation about this with a lovely young woman who had to buy a new outfit at the conference I was attending because of this issue). But honestly, I’m not so sure just how far I would travel if I had to deal with this kind of gridlock daily.

As we headed out toward Malibu to explore the coastline, my son explained that he tries not to go more than 15 miles from where he lives (and sometimes that 15 miles can easily take an hour to traverse), that it just takes too much time and effort. And there really is no off season for traffic in LA.  But he’s a good son and humors his mom, and we did work to time our trip to avoid the peak traffic times.

Not too many miles from the urban centers of LA are long stretches of beautiful beaches and magnificent canyons.  I love the character of piers–it seems that each has its own personality. And in the gray overcast that if typical coastal SoCal June gloom, we met up with these seagulls who posed perfectly for my shot.


They’ve learned that most people are more interested in taking photos than in bothering them, letting us get quite close.  One of the things I hate most about the coastal grays of May and June is the way it washes all the colors out of the surroundings.  But looking down below the pier, I was able to see the turquoises, greens and blues of the water.


And some miles further north we found Matador beach, a place with huge rocks that jut out of the sand.  Gray weather doesn’t deter determined beach goers–there were plenty of people at the beach.  The tide was fairly high and people were tucked into openings along the cliff face watching children race the waves in hallways carved from rock.


In one of the openings sat a couple of lobster traps washed up on the shore.  I leaned in close with my macro lens to capture some of the complexities of the trap…and very nearly drenched my shoes with the wave that snuck up.  Luckily, I had a graceful moment and lifted my foot just before the wave broke…and still got the shot!


Rather than finding the freeway to get back, we headed down a canyon with majestic views of the hillsides.  In spite of the drought, you can see that we’ve had some recent rains.


And I love the way that urban flowers (some might call them weeds), find cracks in the asphalt to grow and blossom.


And like the urban flowers, humans also find ways to grow and blossom.  LA has a variety of unique communities and many many walls painted with murals, colorful artwork that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit.


And if you look closely you can find the beauty in the ordinary–the shadows cast on old brick buildings, the way the light plays in the treetops as the sun begins to dip…


And if I had been able to stay late enough, I would have seen these chandeliers lit as they hung from the old oak tree…but there is something beautiful and interesting about seeing them in silhouette on among the longest of days this year.


It’s hard to believe that I have lived most of my life in Southern California and only recently begun to explore Los Angeles.  You don’t have to go far to travel to new heights and experiences…mostly what you need to fresh eyes, and it doesn’t hurt to have a camera handy!  I love that there is no off season for learning…it’s a daily adventure!

(And #CLMOOC starts today…more ways to learn and play!  Feel free to join in the fun.)

An Urban Landscape

It’s easy to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.  Trees and flowers, bugs and birds, fish and squirrels…and all the wonders of zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries make us stop and wonder at the miracles of nature.  And we often find this beauty in spaces that are open and natural, away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life.

And after a couple of days communing with nature, today I was back in a more urban landscape.  A place where parking is difficult , traffic is the norm, and lots of people are concentrated in small spaces.  And I enjoyed a couple of hours browsing a wonderful independent bookstore and some other retail shops before heading to the airport to return home.

But before I left that coveted parking space, my trusty iPhone camera and I walked a couple of blocks to explore the manufacturing district just a block or two away from the upscale shopping district.

After crossing the train tracks, I came across this asphalt factory.


And there’s a kind of beauty in this man-made factory and the machines that we depend on for smooth roads and transportation.


Big trucks drove in and out, but I didn’t get to see any actual asphalt.


It’s amazing what you’ll discover when you cross the tracks!


Where do you discover unexpected beauty?  What catches your eye and makes you want to know more?